One of the biggest exports of The Philippines is OFWs, and there are few countries whose citizens when they emigrate, miss their homeland as deeply as Filipinos. Family and country are highly important to them. They leave the Philippines for a variety of reasons, usually economic, sometimes political. Tradesmen and manual workers routinely head to middle eastern countries. The same applies to domestic helpers. Among the professional classes such as engineers, nurses, and doctors, they usually go to North America or Europe.
Men who go to the middle east work under challenging conditions and need to return home after at most fifteen years due to the heavy tole the work takes on their bodies as a result of the physically demanding work they do and difficult working conditions.
It’s different for the professional classes. They fall into two distinct groups of OFWs. One group becomes very Westernized and never plans on returning to the Philippines. They are in the minority. The larger group start saving from day one with a view to eventually retiring to the Philippines. They also regularly send money back home to provide educational funds if needed for members of their extended family to attend university. Their plan is usually to someday return home and retire.
That retiring home process has become significantly easier in many ways as retirement destinations in the Philippines became proactive and built better infrastructure, hospitals, medical, and dental practices to provide good health care. There are also towns and areas that have focused on making their city or area attractive for returning Filipino emigrants.
Most of those OFWs returning to the Philippines are well off financially. Filipinos are good savers and while not being tight with their money, they are certainly not frivolous people.
One relevant factor for their retirement is that in some ways they have become very Westernized, so their expectations of services and quality of life has been significantly altered from when they originally left the Philippines.
One of their advantages is their cash savings and pensions from working abroad has significant purchasing power in the Philippines. Additionally, if they owned a home in America, Canada, or Europe, and had paid off the mortgage, part of the sale price would purchase a valuable retirement home in the Philippines, even in Dumaguete, which is now recognized as the best city in the Philippines to retire.
It’s never easy for anyone to emigrate to another country. Most do it because they have to for economic or even political reasons. The Marcos regime from 1972 to 1986, resulted in a higher than usual exodus of the professional class from the Philippines. Ironically, the substantial amounts of money regularly sent back home by OFWs helped the Marcos regime to remain in power. Over the past twenty-five years, many of them have returned. More are returning now to the Philippines sometimes to work, but mostly to retire.
The societal impact of relatively affluent Filipinos large numbers of Filipinos returning Filipinos is the middle class becomes stronger and more significant in Philippine society. The experience and knowledge of many returning professionals have also helped universities and businesses to benefit from their experiences abroad. Filipinos have a strong sense of community and love of their country. They are very gregarious and generous people. They want to give back to their community and society in general. The impact of their financial impact upon returning makes a significant contribution to life in the Philippines. The day they arrive in Manila airport ends a journey of a lifetime they began long ago and begins their well-earned reward to continue their lives back home.
As more and more OFWs decide to retirn to the Philippines, we are hoping that they give a long hard look to Dumaguete